Assessing regulators’ performance

Economic regulators play an important role in sectors that deliver essential services to citizens and the economy. Robust performance assessment helps regulators understand where to adjust their approach to improve outcomes. According to the OECD Best Practice Principles on the Governance of Regulators, a well-designed performance framework serves multiple goals: demonstrating the effectiveness of the regulator, building confidence in the regulatory system and driving improvements (OECD, 2014). Performance assessment is a critical ingredient for maintaining accountability and fostering transparency, and public bodies are often required to report on results and enable scrutiny of their performance. Data on the performance of both the regulator and the regulated sector are an important ingredient of economic regulators’ performance assessment frameworks. The results can also be part of organisational learning, providing inputs into decision making.

Results from the 2018 OECD Indicators on the Governance of Sector Regulators show that energy, e-communications, rail transport, air transport and water sector regulators in OECD countries could strengthen their reporting in some categories of information about their own performance, in order to produce a more holistic view of performance and to enhance accountability. For example, some regulators collect (78%) and publish (57%) performance information about the quality of the regulatory process (Table 7.12). This type of organisational performance information should be complemented by outward-looking performance information assessing the performance of the sector and final outcomes for customers. Many regulators do not collect or publish information in the other categories relevant to organisational performance and efficiency: compliance with legal obligations, organisational governance, and the operational service delivery of the regulator (Online Figure G.31). The most commonly collected and reported information across sectors and countries is on the performance of the regulated sector and the financial performance of the regulator.

Further reading

Casullo, L., A. Durand and F. Cavassini (2019), “The 2018 indicators on the Governance of Sector Regulators – Part of the Product Market Regulation (PMR) Survey”, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 1564, OECD Publishing, Paris,

OECD (2014), The Governance of Regulators, OECD Best Practice Principles for Regulatory Policy, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

G.31. (Types of performance information collected and published by regulators, 2018) is available online in Annex G.

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